Today, the Counsel for the Attorney General of Canada (AGC) gave their opening remarks in defense of Canada's universal public health care system. Over the next two weeks, their witnesses will testify about the federal government's role in health care, the initiatives the federal government has taken to reduce wait times, the effects of a two-tier health system on equity for Canadians and that health inequalities will increase across the country if Cambie were to be successful in their case.
Mr. Manning, Counsel for the AGC, was very clear in his opening remarks, stating that the Plaintiffs have not been able to show that BC's legislation, the Medicare Protection Act, is in contravention of Sections 7 and 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights. And, in fact it is this legislation which ensures that British Columbians have access to universal and equitable health care - health care based on need, not the ability or willingness to pay.
If fact, if the plaintiffs were to win this case, it would "turn back the clock" and lead to the end of universal public health care in Canada. The loss of this legislation - which bans doctors from working in a dual system (both in the private and in the public system), bans them being able to charge patients extra for their services, and bans private insurance for paying for services covered under Medicare - would, among other things:
- lead to increased costs in the public system as it tries to compete with the private sector to keep personnel, and decrease the ability to control costs and efficiencies through a single payer system
- siphon off health care personnel into the private sector, causing shortages in the public system
- increase wait times for those needing to use the public system, as there will be less resources and funds available